Min­is­ter high­lights ef­forts to change lives through tourism

Weekend Post (South Africa) - - NEWS - Devon Koen koend@ti­soblack­star.co.za

SEEN as the driv­ing force be­hind sus­tain­able so­cioe­co­nomic devel­op­ment, tourism in South Africa has ex­pe­ri­enced a sig­nif­i­cant growth in the sec­tor and it should be used in a way to make the coun­try one of the world’s top tourist des­ti­na­tions.

Speak­ing at an event hosted by Nel­son Man­dela Univer­sity’s (NMU) Unit for Eco­nom­ics, Devel­op­ment and Tourism last night, Tourism Min­is­ter Thokozile Xasa said tourism should be per­ceived as some­thing that had the po­ten­tial to change peo­ple’s lives and cre­ate sta­bil­ity through em­ploy­ment.

“It is ex­cit­ing times for tourism in South Africa be­cause we are at a time that we can make things prac­ti­cal and ac­ces­si­ble to ev­ery­one,” Xasa said.

“It is pos­si­ble to take the coun­try out of its tech­ni­cal re­ces­sion we are in through tourism.”

De­liv­er­ing her key­note ad­dress, ti­tled Sus­tain­able Tourism as a Driver of So­cio-Eco­nomic Devel­op­ment, she said a broader look at tourism was needed to ex­am­ine other ar­eas the sec­tor could ben­e­fit from as iden­ti­fied by the gov­ern­ment through its nine-point plan for eco­nomic growth launched in 2015, in­clud­ing agri­cul­ture and agri­cul­tural pro­cess­ing, small busi­ness en­ter­prises and the oceans econ­omy.

“This will see tourism ven­tur­ing into dif­fer­ent eco­nomic as­pects [such as] the ocean econ­omy where we have al­ready iden­ti­fied prod­ucts and what we want to do,” she said.

Xasa said her department was also look­ing at how to put more em­pha­sis on des­ti­na­tion devel­op­ment and mar­ket­ing of the coun­try.

“In the next five years we want to see five mil­lion more tourists ar­riv­ing, four mil­lion in­ter­na­tional tourists and one mil­lion lo­cal tourists. We want to keep them and make sure we have new prod­ucts along with the old ones we al­ready have.”

Skills and skills devel­op­ment con­tin­ued to be im­por­tant along­side en­ter­prise devel­op­ment for the tourism in­dus­try, which would bring broad-based ben­e­fits to dif­fer­ent com­mu­ni­ties.

“Sus­tain­able tourism is a com­mit­ment the in­dus­try has made to re­duce the car­bon foot­print and pre­serve nat­u­ral at­trac­tions – all our prod­ucts are go­ing green.”

NMU ex­ec­u­tive dean of arts Pro­fes­sor Rose Boswell, who rep­re­sented the in­sti­tu­tion’s man­age­ment at the event, said it was an hon­our for the univer­sity’s department of tourism and the fac­ulty of busi­ness and eco­nomic sci­ences to have Xasa at the event.

Other del­e­gates at the event in­cluded lo­cal in­dus­try role-play­ers, pub­lic sec­tor rep­re­sen­ta­tives in­clud­ing Nel­son Man­dela Bay Mu­nic­i­pal­ity chief whip Wer­ner Senekal, DA East­ern Cape leader Nqaba Bhanga and Nel­son Man­dela Bay Tourism head Mand­lakazi Ske­file.

PHO­TO­GRAPH: BRIAN WITBOOI

GO­ING GREEN: Tourism Min­is­ter Thokozile Xasa speaks at NMU

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